Deliberating over mastectomy: Survival and social roles

Su Ying Fang, Bih Ching Shu, Susan J. Fetzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Most studies based on a woman's decision regarding breast cancer treatments have focused on surgical treatment preference and related factors. Few studies have been carried out to identify the concerns associated with coming to terms with a mastectomy and cancer diagnosis among women eligible for a mastectomy only. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to explore Taiwanese women's experience about facing a mastectomy and to determine their deliberations before agreeing to a recommended mastectomy. METHODS: Ten women who had undergone a mastectomy participated, with 3 undergoing individual interviews and 7 participating in a focus group. Findings during the interviews guided the focus group. RESULTS: Content analysis revealed 4 themes through the women's narratives of the decision-making experience when a mastectomy was recommended. These included (a) surviving is a priority, (b) fulfilling responsibility, (c) coming to terms with postsurgery alternatives, and (d) making arrangements. CONCLUSION: The experience surrounding the decision to undergo a mastectomy among Taiwanese women may be complicated by survival concerns, the meanings of the breast, and a feeling of an uncontrolled daily life. Cultural beliefs ensured that women were fulfilling their expected social roles and always thinking about significant others first. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Recognizing women's private concerns with sensitivity and supporting women to balance their own needs and assigned social responsibilities are important considerations for women undergoing a mastectomy. Developing cultural competency is necessary for nurses working in communities with diverse ethnoculture people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E21-E28
JournalCancer Nursing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Mar 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)

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